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  • Beqanna

    COTY

    Aela -- Year 216

    QOTY

    "So she smiles prettily and steals away when she can. Feels the brutal pounding of others around her with a savagery that she has never comprehended—their emotions so vast, their hearts so wicked. It warps her more than she was already warped. It presses a thumbprint of cruelty into her darkness, shaping her into a thing of shadow, a thing of longing, a thing carved from the darkness between every breath." --Baptiste, written by Laura


    ROUND FOUR: Jamie v. Gale
    #1
    2 attacking posts each, 1 final defensive post – 3 days between posts.
    One 2-day extension per person if needed
    Attacks can be multiple things, i.e. Albert attempts to bite Rose's neck and then kicks at her knee. Counter-attacks and attacks are all counted as attacks.
    Complete dodges are allowed, but for the sake of realism, be careful when using these.
    Traits allowed.
    No editing posts.
    1,000 word limit.
    Jamie posts first unless otherwise agreed upon.

    SETTING: Dry heat with sand at noon during solar eclipse. Eclipse will negate one trait (1+ space) of your choosing. The eclipse will be gradual. Please specify as an OOC note in your first post which trait is negated.

    @[jamie]
    Gender: Stallion
    Body Type & Height: Slim/lean, 16.2hh
    Abilities: Shadow Creature, Fog Manipulation, Ghost Whispering

    v.

    @[Gale]
    Gender: Male
    Body Type & Height: 16hh; medium/medium-heavy build - like a Welsh Cob
    Abilities: wings, spinal mane, self-healing, vision manipulation, faun horns, companion animal (Osprey)
    [Image: Leah.png]
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    #2
    The shadow thing emerges on the edge of the battlefield warm and limber, the muscles humming with life beneath the surface of his skin. Whatever damage had been done in the last battle has been undone and he feels fresh and whole and ready. He has spent the downtime between battles making a conscious effort to discover new ways to use his magic and he carries these ideas with him into battle.

    Greatness is so close that he can almost taste it. The only thing standing between him and glory is this winged stallion.

    Jamie loiters on the precipice long enough to take stock of his opponent and the state of their battlefield. From here, the winged stallion looks to be roughly the same height, though Gale is stockier, heavier. Jamie is slim to the point of being narrow and he acknowledges that this will be a disadvantage. Gale’s attacks will likely naturally pack a bigger punch and Jamie will have to channel all of his power into his own. Despite the differences in their frames, though, the sand will probably be a hindrance to them both. Jamie can only hope that his lighter frame will work to his advantage, even if only just slightly.

    The midday sun beats harshly along his spine, which puts a sour taste in his mouth. As a creature of darkness, he has never been particularly fond of the sun. When the sunlight starts to wane, he thinks he must be imagining it. He’s not foolish enough to turn and look, of course, and chooses instead to ignore it. (As the sunlight fades, though, so too do the voices of the ghosts that seem to play on a constant loop at the back of his mind).

    He had felt some lingering sense of trepidation in the last round when he’d gone to war with an old friend. He had never wanted to hurt Balto, but death had taken his conscience and he had ultimately felt no remorse for doing what he had to do to get one step closer to victory. But the shadow thing feels absolutely no glimmer of hesitation as he launches himself into the fray now. His opponent is a nameless, faceless obstacle that he has to overcome and nothing more than that.

    Greatness is so close that he can almost taste it.

    He drags in a rattling breath and summons a portal that delivers him to the center of the battlefield. He uses this means of transportation to conserve energy because to canter through the sand surely would have taken a noticeable toll on him. He quickly locates Gale and turns to face him. He concentrates on opening a portal with one mouth facing the sun (which is still only partially covered by the eclipse) and the other mouth just behind and above himself. He has not opened this portal to travel through but rather in hopes that the sunlight traveling through the portal will hit Gale straight in the face, effectively temporarily blinding him, or at least concealing the shadow thing’s movements enough to allow him to get close enough to attack cleanly.

    He springs into action quickly. While he finds that his light frame makes it slightly easier to move through the sand, it is still difficult. He will have to be careful and precise. He makes whatever adjustments he needs to in order to ensure that he is facing Gale head-on and moves rapidly toward him. When he is only a couple of yards away, he angles his shoulders as if he is going to move to Gale’s right side and then suddenly changes course, hoping to confuse his opponent. He leaps to his own right (Gale’s left) instead, moving as quickly as the sand will allow to put a few feet’s worth of space between them, and attempts to align himself parallel to Gale’s left side. When he thinks their shoulders are aligned, he pivots on his forehand, plants his front hooves in the sand, and coils his hindquarters beneath himself before bucking and kicking out with as much power as he can channel into his hind legs.

    He attempts to aim for Gale’s shoulder and the group of the deltoid and pectoral muscles there, aware that an injured shoulder would make moving through the sand even more difficult. Should Gale leap forward, Jamie can hope to catch him in the ribcage and bruise a rib (he knows firsthand the difficulty of breathing with painful ribs) or, if he’s lucky, he might catch the wing joint and keep his opponent grounded. Should Gale take to the air (if he hasn’t already), Jamie can hope that there is enough of a delay that his back hooves might strike any area of Gale’s front legs as he ascends. Such a blow to any of the carpal bones could be devastating, though even a bruised cannon or pastern could be detrimental, too. Should Gale scramble backward quickly enough, Jamie will likely hit nothing but empty air.

    As Jamie’s hind hooves return to the sand, the portal closes again and they are plunged back into the strange half-daylight. His heart is pounding so hard and loud that he has not noticed that the soundtrack of ghost whispers has gone all but silent.

    He leaps away and attempts to turn to face Gale, the sand shifting beneath his feet as the sunlight continues to fade overhead.


    (ooc note: the eclipse is taking jamie's ghost whispering)
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    #3
    Erne had refused to accompany Gale to the Plains, and the brindle stallion left the bird staring at the just-risen moon and its reflection in the Islandres sea. At least the residents will be watched over while he is away, Gale thinks, though he wishes there were more willing to patrol the place. The pegasus arrives on the Plains feeling rather unbalanced by his osprey companion’s absence. His inner turmoil does not affect his physical balance though, and the navy striped pegasus touches down on the sand. He’d been prepared for the rough landing of the rocky plains and is pleasantly surprised to find familiar sand instead. A creature of the islands, Gale is at ease on the footing, and draws to a stop facing his distant opponent head on.

    Gale folds his white wings at his sides, no longer looking twice at the still-unfamiliar flash of crimson feathers on his right wrist as he does so. He waits for Jamie to approach.

    The other stallion is roughly his height, of leaner build, and with something about him that sets the snow-white hair of Gale’s spinal mane on edge even with the distance still between them. It’s the same eerie sensation that he’d gotten from Kensley, and the witch girl, and the boy with white eyes. He suspects that peering through this creature’s eyes might leave him aching and nauseous, and so he eliminates a handful of potential offensive attacks he'd been considering for this final battle.

    Something strange occurs on the battlefield ahead of him, and the creature emerges much closer from a ring of darkness to move toward Gale at speed. Sunlight comes through the portal as well, illuminating the shadow creature and revealing the beginning of the eclipse far overhead. Gale, who has been known to stare directly into sunsets with his regenerating eyes, does not even register the visual assault for what it is. Instead he relieves the momentary itch of his retinas and the somewhat patchy vision that briefly glancing behind Jamie caused in favor of looking at Jamie himself, who is preparing for his first attack with a haste that Gale appreciates. 

    Gale begins to step back at a steady pace the moment Jamie feints left, the sandy footing allowing him to move quickly enough that by the time the other pivots around on his forequarters to kick out at Gale’s shoulder, the brindle stallion’s chest is just inches clear of the yellow-eyed creature’s battering hind hooves. Occupied by getting out of the way, Gale had sacrificed the chance for a more well-timed attack of his own. Now he rises quickly on his own hind legs, his back at a 45 degree angle with the earth, and raises his hooves high in an attempt to barrage the left side of his enemy’s back end as the other horse pulls it back toward and under himself. A strike anywhere would be a good strike, Gale knows, but his delayed action likely has consequences in Jamie’s favor.

    To make up for that, and to hopefully ensure that he emerges victorious, Gale follows through with a rapid slash of his head down and to the left, then sharply to the right and left again. A horse without Gale’s horns might have just tickled Jamie’s belly with their forelock and ears, but Gale means to drive the short spikes of his ivory horns into his opponent’s belly. He might gouge only the other’s thick hindquarters if Jamie pulls them forward, or nothing at all if Jamie’d skittered away, but Gale is unwilling to pass by any chance to deal damage, no matter how minimal.

    This is the final battle, after all, the last obstacle before he can claim lasting protection for Islandres. If he can deal enough damage and avoid enough of his own, Gale can lighten the burden of leadership that has grown with each addition to his island home. Winning this battle means that the magic of Beqanna itself will shield them in recognition of his victory, and Gale means to earn that victory no matter the amount of his own blood it might take. Better to shed it now in a fair fight than in a midnight raid on the innocent, he thinks.

    With his breath coming fast, he watches the black stallion but does not put distance between them. His blue nostrils flare as he contemplates another attack, and then shifts forward almost as if to leap ahead toward Jamie, only to fall back in a feint with hardly enough genuine movement to stir his noon-lit white forelock. A fake-out, Erne would scoff if he were here: child’s play. Gale reaches for the bond between himself and the bird and finds he must struggle to do so. The connection grows weak even as he grasps at it, and his olive eyes narrow in worry as much as focus as he watches his opponent. 

    (ooc note: the eclipse has taken Gale’s companion animal)
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    #4
    i’m going to use my extension because it’s my birthday and i have a headache
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    #5
    There is a split second between the instant where he unleashes all of the power in his hindquarters and the instant where his hind hooves find nothing but air. He should have seen it coming with the way Gale had scrambled backward, but he had been foolish and impulsive and could not have known that his opponent was so adept at moving through deep sand. There is much about his opponent that he does not know, including the magic he possesses that Jamie cannot see.

    He does not have time to tuck his hindquarters fully underneath him again before Gale’s counterattack, which means that he does not get the opportunity to cast himself out of the reach of Gale’s striking hooves. But his opponent has perhaps misjudged the difference in their heights (which is not substantial, but still measurable) and does not rear up high enough to strike Jamie’s hindquarters in any meaningful way. Alas, Jamie does not emerge unscathed, for Gale’s hoof scrapes a layer of hair and flesh from his left gaskin. It is a dull pain, even as blood springs forth to drip from the wound, but it is enough to momentarily distract him from the way his opponent swings his horned head.

    Jamie has collected his hindlegs beneath him, grimacing against the quiet protest of his scraped and bleeding gaskin, and is prepared to move to put some distance between them so he might formulate an effective attack when the point one of Gale’s horns catches him in the flank. It is the surprise as much as the pain that kicks the air out of him and he flares his nostrils wildly as he finally moves to throw himself out of Gale’s reach. His muscles tremble with adrenaline and his vision strobes with this new pain.

    The sand shifts wildly beneath his feet as he moves, which serves to feed the fury mounting in his chest. It is rage born from being injured, from being made to bleed. But just as his opponent is adept at moving through deep sand, Jamie is adept at moving through pain. He had spent the first four years of his life crippled by it and his only hope of survival had been his ability to mentally rise above it. So, he could allow the pain he feels now to hinder him but he will not. Instead, he lets his fury and his adrenaline buoy him, raise him up until the pain is little more than an afterthought. This is perhaps the only reason he is able to so quickly regain the breath that Gale’s horn had knocked out of him.

    Bleeding and pulsing with this new rage, he swings around to face Gale as soon as he is clear of his striking hooves and swinging head. The land around them continues to darken as the eclipse progresses and the voices in his head have gone completely silent now. But he does not need them, he can do this on his own. He can win glory for himself, he can make his mother and father proud, he can realize his full potential alone. He has never needed anyone before and he certainly does not need anyone now.

    It all happens so quickly that he does not have the opportunity to look his opponent in the eye as he summons a great wall of fog. His attempt to temporarily blind Gale with the sun had not worked, so he will try to blind him with darkness instead. The fog gathers thickly around them, an almost impenetrable shield that surrounds them and separates them. The fog combined with the slow dimming of the sun plunges them into relative darkness. But Jamie is the darkness and he has never felt at home anywhere else. The freakish yellow eyes help him navigate through it, as he has spent his whole life in the fog and shadows.

    Mere seconds have passed between the moment he had swung around to face Gale and the moment the fog descended upon them. He flings himself through the fog, his hooves shifting in the deep sand underfoot, hoping that the fog has immobilized his opponent and that his lifetime of moving freely through fog and shadow has provided him with some kind of advantage. He aims himself for the last place he had seen Gale before the fog had separated them and when he thinks he can make out his opponent’s outline through the gathering darkness, he moves to approach Gale’s left shoulder again, this time at an angle.

    He makes a tremendous effort to gather up as much power as he can in his hindquarters a second time, channeling all of his remaining energy (that which is not tied up in maintaining the heavy fog around them or been drained from him by the effort it takes to move through the deep sand) into his haunches again. When he thinks he’s close enough, he throws himself into a rear and strikes out with his front hooves, trying to aim for Gale’s shoulder again. He strikes out wildly, hoping to hit Gale’s pectoral muscles or even his wing joint, anything that might immobilize him. If Gale moves backward, he runs the risk of Jamie striking his head. If he moves forward, he runs the risk of Jamie striking his wing. Then, rather abruptly, Jamie tucks his knees and, moving forward on his hind legs, snakes out his head and attempts to sink his sharp, ink-black teeth into Gale’s crest just behind his poll in an effort to prevent him from attacking with his horns again. It takes tremendous effort and his injured gaskin and flank throb dully but he continues to push himself forward with his hind legs shifting in the sand, trying to drive his weight into Gale, hoping to knock him off-balance. A fall likely would not hurt in this deep sand, but it could be enough to give Jamie the upper hand.
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    #6
    Having reached high with his forelegs, Gale is able to scrape the skin along Jamie’s right hind gaskin with the thick edge of one keratinous hoof. Moments later, the final swing of his head back to his right has his left horn catching at his opponent’s flank with its ivory tip. It pierced the skin – Gale could smell the blood on the hot air – but had not gone deep enough to tear at the muscle, not ripped hard enough to cripple. Gale finds himself wishing, not for the first time, that his horns were a little longer, a little sharper, a little more dangerous. A deeper wound might’ve been a death sentence, he thinks. It would have been a more certain victory as well.

    The awareness that he can kill no longer startles Gale; it hasn’t since he fought Mazikeen and finally grasped the true potential of the Alliance and its promise that no harm is forever. There is no need for him to hold back the way he always does during training. The hunger to win it all grows with each victory, and leaves no room for delay or second-guessing. There is no caution lingering at the back of his mind, no uncertainty. The entire world has narrowed into the dark shape of the horse in front of him, and Gale flows into the battle without hesitation.

    Eerie, that is what he’d thought of Jamie at first glance, and that sickly sense of foreboding blossoms as his wide left eye takes in the growing field of shadows. With his head still turned from his swing, Gale is able to identify a marked difference in the false twilight of the eclipse and the midnight black of summoned darkness. The shadows are wet, Gale has time to think with some consternation, wet and thick like the fog of Taiga….and just as capable of concealing where Jamie has gone.

    Gale had been relying on hoofbeats to tell him when Jamie was coming. He is taken entirely unaware by the soundless attack, and only the huff of exhaled breath a few feet away gives him any warning at all.

    The brindle stallion has time only to shift his weight more to his right side (away from Jamie) and lift his left leg high and bring it back down hard and quick. Whether that will be a counter-strike at an attacking Jamie or a stamp of challenge Gale hadn’t been sure, but it becomes the first as the yellow-eyed creature appears from the darkness, striking out at Gale’s left shoulder from a rear. Bruise, pain, nick, ouch, scrape; Gale does not have time to tally the damage to his left foreleg and shoulder. He’s no time to do anything but replant his left foot and prepare to shove hard against Jamie with the bulk of his body.

    In the millisecond before he does so, just as he shifts his weight back in preparation to launch it forward, Jamie sinks shadow-sharp teeth just behind Gale's poll and ivory horns, and Gale abandons that tactic entirely.

    Instead, he lifts his chin up, shoving his head back in an effort to gouge at Jamie’s nearby face and head with his already blood-stained horn. Reluctant to lose the balanced advantage that having four feet on the ground gives him over Jamie, Gale also snaps out his left wing, hoping its bulk will keep Jamie from darting away in that direction. Brilliantly white (at least when there’s enough light to see it by) and long-feathered, it looks more substantial than it truly is. There’s a reason he has not used the fragile limbs to launch any offensive assault but the pegasus hopes that wingless Jamie might be unaware of that particular weakness.

    Rapidly abandoning his efforts to injure Jamie’s face (he can only hope he is lucky enough to have gotten an eye or the tender flesh of the nose or cheek with that single sweep - not just empty air), Gale lowers his head and follows through with the shove that he’d nearly attempted earlier. With Jamie’s knees tucked, the shadow creature’s chest presents a knobbly target, but one that Gale attempts to hit with his own chest and left shoulder. The damage and bruising on his left shoulder from Jamie’s earlier blow greatly reduces the force of his shove, with Gale gritting his teeth through that pain. It’s not nearly enough to knock his enemy over, but it might force him back, and that will be enough for Gale. At first, he angles his head as though he means to gouge at the center point of Jamie’s ribs as well but the burning ache left by teeth in his crest averts him. Instead, he bites hard and repeatedly at the black surface of Jamie’s barrel with his flat teeth. No wound is too small, he thinks, everything counts in a battle like this one.

    Gale has been only semi-aware of a cold fizzing in his skin as the shadows of Jamie’s bite were expelled by his regenerative healing; whatever magic damage they might have caused was healed in an instant. Now his neck aches like it would after a toothsome natural predator might have bitten him. Like Mazikeen’s wolf face, he thinks, if it had jaws three times larger. His left shoulder is scraped raw in several places, cut and bruised by Jamie’s assault. His knee is bruised as well, but not enough to impede weight-bearing, or even enough for him to notice until this temporary moment of reflection before a third round would naturally begin. His self-healing allows the blood to ooze slowly from his many battle wounds rather than scab over, and Gale’s irritation at its fickleness rises. He means to win this battle for Islandres, but if it happens to come with a personal boon that allows him to heal himself of anything – immediately – he will certainly not decline that prize.
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    #7
    Perhaps Jamie’s reasons for wanting to win this battle (and those that had come before it) are not as noble as his opponent’s, but they serve to motivate him all the same. He had spent the first four years of his life a cripple, a recluse, someone whose entire existence revolved around the pain that plagued him. His breath rattled and his joints ached and he had moved so laboriously through life, dizzy and weak, convinced that it was what he deserved, convinced that he was paying penance for sins he could not remember committing.

    And then he had emerged from beneath the cloud of all that pain something entirely new, something whole and almost complete. He had begun to understand then that he was capable of so much more than he ever could have imagined. It is this mortal body that hinders him still, not with pain now but with a certain weakness inherent in all mortal things. This is not the life he was meant to live, he knows that now. He is meant for far greater things, he is meant to win the Alliance and become exactly what he was always meant to be. To do so, he thinks, would almost certainly make his parents proud, too. His mother had won the Alliance once and he does not know what he’ll do if he has to face her and admit to her that he’d failed.

    He had been afraid of what he’d thought himself capable of once. He’d had dreams of the ruin he could bring and they had frightened him, but he feels absolutely no fear now. He had been built for death and destruction, he is a thing meant to destroy, he understands this now.

    So he had attacked with everything in him, every muscle that had ever quivered with exhaustion, every labored breath he had ever taken, every joint that had ever been too weak to carry him, every ounce of rage and fury that he’d ever felt in his short life. Still, not even the satisfaction he feels when his front hoof strikes Gale’s shoulder (he had already pushed himself into a rear by the time Gale had stamped his left foreleg, thus avoiding it altogether) is enough to temper the rage in his gut, though his satisfaction compounds even further when his teeth find purchase in the meat of Gale’s crest and blood springs forth into his ink-black mouth.

    He had underestimated his opponent’s range of motion, though. Gale flings back his head and Jamie does not have enough time to recoil before a horn catches him in the cheek beneath his left eye. He is not as fortunate this time as he had been when the horn had merely punctured the flesh of his flank without damaging any of the muscles underneath. This time he can feel the horn dip beneath his flesh and catch in the fibers of his masseter muscle. He immediately releases his grip on Gale’s crest and yanks back his head, struggling to maintain his balance as he does. His blood is hot as it cuts an unapologetic river down the length of his face.

    Gale flings his wing out wide (which is not difficult to notice, as it is such a stark white against the darkness) and Jamie might have capitalized on the opportunity to pummel the outstretched appendage if not for the dull throbbing in his wounded gaskin and his rapidly deteriorating energy levels. Instead, he moves to follow through with his initial attack, trying to drive his weight into his opponent. But Gale counters with his own weight, which is decidedly more substantial than Jamie’s.

    The shadow thing is no match for the winged stallion at that moment. His hindquarters buzz and hum with rumors of fatigue from moving through the deep sand while his gaskin throbs and his injured flank pulses with hurt. And now the cheek, which he does not dare further investigate. He does not even attempt to grit his teeth, aware that doing so would only make the pain much worse than it already is. This enrages him further, though there is nothing he can do about it now; the battle has nearly reached its end.

    Just as Gale had suspected, his shove is not enough to knock Jamie over, but it is enough to knock him off-balance and shove him sideways and he has to hurry to return his front hooves to the sand. His injured flank cries out in protest as he twists to right himself. The fog lifts almost immediately then and Jamie is only vaguely aware of Gale’s blunt teeth seeking purchase along his sides. His hindquarters are too fatigued now to think about running through the sand (not to mention Gale’s wide-flung wing blocking his nearest escape route), so he summons another portal of darkness and throws himself through it, away from the teeth. He emerges on the edge of the battlefield, which is still plunged in that odd darkness despite the absence of his fog.

    The shadow thing stands there in the deep, strange dark, his sides heaving as he struggles to catch his breath, dripping hot blood from his face, gaskin, flank, and a new, smaller wound caused by Gale’s teeth in the sand underfoot. He stares across the battlefield, those freakish yellow eyes trained steadily on his opponent, who does not seem to be bleeding at all. He doesn’t allow himself to dwell on this for fear that it might stoke the flames of his still-smoldering fury and have him throwing himself back into the fray again.

    His breath rattles like death, even still, a reminder of who had been once and would never allow himself to be again. He stares long and hard because he wants Gale to remember those eyes, big and round and haunted. And then, when he closes them, it is impossible to tell if he has gone or if he lingers in the darkness still.
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